Coadjutor Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Migration Committee, offered his endorsement of legislation introduced today in Congress.
He said the legislation "will significantly repair an immigration system inadequate to meet the migration flows of the 21st century and which all too often undermines the basic rights and dignity of the human person."
The Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas Enhancement (SOLVE) Act of 2004 is intended to protect the rights of U.S. and foreign workers; promote family unity; and grant migrant workers and their families in the United States the opportunity to become permanent residents or U.S. citizens.
The legislation was introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Representatives Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, all Democrats.
Bishop Wenski said the bishops support the legislation because "we witness, almost daily, the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers ..., the discord in local communities ... impacted by immigration, and, most disturbingly, the deaths of migrants, including women and children, in remote areas of the American Southwest."
In January 2003, the U.S. and Mexican bishops called for comprehensive immigration reform in a historic joint pastoral letter, "Strangers No Longer." Bishop Wenski said the SOLVE Act meets all the criteria spelled in that document.